"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

About Us

My photo
San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 650, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

10 March 2015

❖ BLUE WATER BOAT: Schooner PRIMROSE IV ❖ JOHN ALDEN'S NO. 111 (updated 7-16)

ON 223224
Sail area; 1,305 sq. ft. Lines drawn in 1919

shows a lot of similarity to the early Malabars.
Displacement of 48,200 pounds.
Tracing by John Alden Crocker.
Courtesy John G. Alden, Inc.
See credit below.
"John Alden's schooner used extensively in northern waters was PRIMROSE IV, design number 111. She became, for a time, one of the designer's most talked about boats, because in 1927 she won for her young master, Frederick I. Ames, the Cruising Club of America's Blue Water Medal, described as sailing's most coveted award.
Warwick M. Tompkins, navigator
Jack Bishop, Abel Seaman
Frances La Farge, Able Seaman
Skipper Fred L. Ames, in blazer,
Tom Sherwen, Cook
Photo back dated 11 May 1928.
Photographer unknown.
Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
With owner, Frederick I. Ames (top)
& Warwick Tompkins, Sr. 
hands on the bowsprit.
19 May 1928
Photo by Acme, N.Y.

Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.© 

       PRIMROSE IV was built in 1923 by Rufus Condon at Friendship, ME, for Walter H. Huggins of Boston. She was the second, or "B" boat, built to the 111 design, that was created in 1920. In a sense she was a forerunner to the early Malabars. Like the Malabars, PRIMROSE IV has a gradually curving keel profile with a fair amount of drag. Her beam at the deck is generous forward and aft, while her waterlines are fairly fine forward but full aft. Like the Malabars, she is quite short ended, has a generous sheer, and in general, has the look of a fisherman. Her dimensions are 50.2-ft, by 39 feet 11 inches, by 13-ft x 7.2-ft. Her construction is sturdy, with sawn frames and 1.5-inch planking. She carries about eight tons of ballast, half inside and half outside.
      While under the command of Huggins, PRIMROSE IV sailed in the 1924 Bermuda Race and took second in her class.
       Then she was sold to Frederick Ames, who cruised in the schooner to Labrador a year later and in 1927 sailed her across to England for the Fastnet Race. She was the first American yacht to compete in this rugged event, and she did well, finishing second on corrected time. The heavy weather during that race forced many contestants, including the hard-driven British cutter JOLIE BRISE, to heave-to, but PRIMROSE IV carried on under reduced canvas. Her crew discussed heaving-to, but as yachting reporter Alfred R. Loomis put it, "their discussion outlasted the gale." Ames sailed the schooner back home by way of Iceland, Labrador, and Cape Breton Island, and it was for this 58-day passage, carefully prepared and competently carried out, that he was awarded the Blue Water Medal.
PRIMROSE IV, right of center,
at Thorshaven, 18 May 1928,
en route home to US.

Photo by Acme, N.Y.
Original from the archives of S. P. H. S.©
Looking aft on PRIMROSE IV
dated 18 May 1928
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Ships That Pass
From the 1928 trip of PRIMROSE IV

Archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Captain Fred Ames
Dated 18 May 1928
Light Airs and a Shetland Islands Trawler;
Headed home to the US,
On board PRIMROSE IV with Captain Fred Ames (R)
Dated 18 May 1928.

From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Transatlantic voyagers 19 May 1928.

From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Running our westing down under square sail
Iceland to Labrador."
Dated 23 May 1928

From the archives of S.P.H.S.©
The bald-headed rig permits easy handling, although one might be concerned about lack of sail area when racing in light airs. Of course, the schooner was not designed for typical round-the-buoys racing; she was intended for rough waters and strong winds. In contrast with some of Alden's later gaff-rigged schooners, PRIMROSE IV's foresail is fairly small, which facilitates lying to in very heavy weather. During her worst mid-Atlantic gale, the schooner lay-to very successfully under reefed foresail and backed jumbo.
      The arrangements below follows the typical plan used during the days of professional crew, when it was customary to place the galley between the fo'c's'le and the saloon. The owner's cabin aft has its own toilet room, and there is another at the after end of the saloon, with a head for the crew forward. The companionways are off-center on the starboard side, so it might be desirable to heave to on the starboard tack.
      Yachting historian John Parkinson, Jr., has written that Frederick Ames was not only a fearless sailor but also a daring stunt flier whose life was cut short by an airplane accident. No doubt Ames' cruising exploits were considered daring too, but they were carried out with careful seamanship and in almost the safest boat that a yachtsman of that day could ask for."
Text and drawing from John G. Alden and his Yacht Designs, by Robert W. Carrick and Richard Henderson; Camden, ME by International Marine Publishing Co.

Book Search––
John G. Alden & His Yacht Designs

If you have any story of the race or long sail trip home, feel free to comment or send an email through this site. 
There was one more photo of crew added to this post in July 2016. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi a have a photo of Primrose IV out of the water at st Helens on the Isle of Wight.It is titled, being made ready for trip. I assume she is being prepared for the return journey home after the Fastnet race. the press photo has a date stamp, May 23rd 1928. This is probably an approximate date. Chris Nye IW


Archived Log Entries